September 5, 2015 — CRNI’s Courage in Editorial Cartooning award was presented, in absentia, to Atena Farghadani at a gathering of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists in Columbus, Ohio. Ms. Farghadani is presently in prison in Iran, facing a 12 year 9 month sentence for posting a cartoon on her Facebook page. Washington Post cartoonist and animator Ann Telnaes accepted the award on Ms. Farghadani’s behalf, saying: “Atena Farghadani . . . was arrested for this cartoon ridiculing members of the Iranian parliament over a law restricting birth control which would set women’s rights in Iran back decades. She was speaking out for the women of Iran . . . She was beaten. She was interrogated nine hours at a time. She was subjected to surveillance cameras mounted in the shower, where male guards would watch the women prisoners.
“You know, I think that we talk a lot about courage in our business, and we like to think that we would have the courage to stand for our principals regardless of what happens to our personal safety. I don’t know if I could do what she has done . . . I think it’s quite amazing, actually, what this young woman has done.”
At the end of the award ceremony, CRNI founder Robert Russell asked everyone in the audience to sign an open letter to the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei, and to Iran’s President, Hassan Rouhani. The letter petitions their good offices to ensure that Atena Farghadani will be granted a pardon and released from prison.